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Philadelphia Union are unbeaten in nine games against D.C. United, but Jim Curtin knows there can be no complacency in Saturday’s encounter with Hernan Losada’s team.

The Union drew 1-1 with the New York Red Bulls last time out, while D.C. thrashed Toronto FC 7-1 in their most recent outing.

Philadelphia are just four points off Eastern Conference leaders New England Revolution, though D.C. would move to within a point of Curtin’s team with a win.

“We shift our focus to a D.C. United team that is playing very well, their coach has done a great job with them, they’re very organised, very disciplined, and they have belief right now,” Curtin said.

“Coming off of a 7-1 win, coming off some good friendly results, a team that’s very relentless in their pursuit to win the ball. They run, they fight for every inch. They’ll be a very difficult, physical match.

“A good team, nice to finally play at home. We’ll be a little bit shorthanded, they’ll be a little bit shorthanded but it’ll be a very competitive match, one where we’ll have to execute in all phases. We’ll have to be at the top of our game to come out on top.”

Both Curtin and D.C. are having to deal with plenty of absentees, with MLS resuming while the Gold Cup is well underway.

Fortunately for Losada, centre-back Steven Birnbaum has returned from injury, though he may well have to play up to three games in the space of eight days.

“I don’t like much rotation, but I don’t have a choice,” Losada said.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Philadelphia Union – Kacper Przybylko

Kacper Przybylko has scored five goals in five games against D.C. United, including scoring the winning goal when the sides met in May.D.C. United – Ola Kamara

Striker Ola Kamara took his goal tally for the season to five with a strike in D.C. United’s humbling of Toronto. He is the team’s leading scorer this season.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Three different subs scored for D.C. United in its 7-1 win over Toronto (Y. Asad, O. Kamara, G. Yow). It was the third time in MLS history that three different subs scored in a match with the Union doing so in 2019 and the Red Bulls achieving the feat in 2016.

– Union forward Przybylko has not scored more than three times against any other opponent in his MLS career.

– D.C. United beat Toronto FC, 7-1, in its last match, scoring the most goals in club history. The six-goal margin was also the largest in the team’s MLS history.

– Philadelphia has won its last three home matches, keeping a clean sheet in each game. It’s the first time the Union have achieved that at home since June-July 2017 while they’ve never done so in four straight home matches.

– Their current nine-match unbeaten streak against D.C. equals the longest unbeaten run for Philadelphia against any opponent in its MLS history (nine straight including playoffs vs. New England from 2018 to 2020).

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